Saturday, September 13, 2014

Banana Date Walnut Bread (And It's Vegan!)

There's been a high demand for a vegan version of my banana bread in the household lately, so I've been up to my elbows baking. As most of you know, I'm not a natural baker, so it's definitely been a practice in following the rules. You can't just feel your way through baking, like you can for other forms of cooking. But I've managed to keep the creative flow by experimenting with variations of recipes, and I think I've come up with a pretty good one. 

The key is: don't skimp on the bananas! 

I was baking two batches last week and fell just a little short on bananas with the second one; the difference in taste and moistness was apparent. The bananas should be ripe, with no green on the skin! This ensures their natural sweetness, thus requiring less sugar than a lot of other recipes.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cinnamon (you can use up to 1/4 tsp; I'm sensitive to the flavor so I prefer to use less.)
  • 4 medium ripe bananas (mashed, not pureed)
  • 3 tbs olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In medium bowl, mix sugar, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In large bowl, mash bananas. Add oil, vanilla extract, and dates. Stir until combined. 

In separate bowl, whisk together almond milk and vinegar. Let stand 2-3 three minutes, then add to banana mixture. You might be wondering, why are we adding vinegar to banana bread? I thought the same thing when I first came across recipes that included this step. Think of it as a vegan "buttermilk" that adds a lightness to the final product. 

Add dry ingredients to the wet, stir together. Be careful: too much stirring and you will end up with a dense loaf! Fold in walnuts. 

Lightly oil a 9 x 5 loaf pan. I used one of those spray misters to get an even coating with less oil.  Pour banana bread mixture into pan and pop into oven for 45-50* minutes. When done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread should emerge clean. Place on cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then slice, serve and enjoy!

*Due to oven variations, I advise to check on the banana bread after about 40 minutes. 

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